Life Fitness has been at the forefront of exercise technology since its inception in 1977 when the company produced the world’s first piece of electrical fitness equipment, the LifeCycle Exercise Bike. Since then, Life Fitness has become the leading global manufacturer of fitness equipment, and technological innovation continues to be one of their core priorities. In 2003, they began attaching LCD screens onto the machines and in 2007, their Elevation series of gym equipment provided the opportunity for iPod and USB connectivity. Today, Life Fitness is preparing to officially announce the release of the first-ever iPhone app to work in direct communication with their premier line of cardio machines.
Currently available for free on the iTunes Store, the Life Fitness Virtual Trainer app allows exercisers to create their own individualized exercise programs, track calories burned, and update their results on both the Life Fitness Virtual Trainer website and their iPhone or iPod touch. While the main components of the app are already available for download, the update, which will permit the smooth exchange of an Apple user’s personal stats, music, and preferences, is yet to be released. This integration of an app with cardio equipment is brand new and its development undoubtedly raises the stakes in the field of exercise technology.
“Today, internet content is shaping the workout experience and new technology, like apps, further enhances a fitness program,” said Chris Clawson, president of Life Fitness. “This app is the natural next step for Life Fitness and will support our users by allowing them to maximize their workouts on our equipment.” While Life Fitness takes great pride in its cutting-edge equipment and iPhone technology, representatives emphasize that their mission is not just about changing technology, it’s about changing lives.
When users connect their iPhone or iPod touch to Life Fitness Elevation Series of machines, the equipment will recognize the app and send workout results directly to your mobile device. Immediately upon download, users are required to create a brief profile, specifying their age, gender, height, and weight. Although the demand may be initially groan-inducing (another digital profile to maintain?), the Profile ultimately serves to save time. With saved information that will link instantly with Life Fitness equipment, when gym-goers climb onto their favorite treadmill or elliptical, they won’t have to undergo the tedious task of re-entering their information. The Profile section of the app also allows users to select between particular goals, providing a list of categories including “Look Better,” “Perform Better,” and “Feel Better.” Whereas workouts are typically private, the Virtual Trainer also offers the option of sharing cardio and strength training results with Facebook friends. While I am skeptical about publicizing the private particulars of a workout, the option could be seen as more proof of technology’s ever-expanding social functions and relevant potential to fortify communities.
As a runner who can barely jog a step without auditory encouragement, I find the inclusion of “Music Packs” to be a creative and helpful supplement. Two playlists are pre-loaded in the app but unfortunately, they are not free. Each playlist can be purchased for $3.99 a mix. Along with music, the app also arrives with 12 free pre-programmed workouts ranging from “Tuesday’s Fat Burn Treadmill” to “Beach Body 15 min Bike Workout.” A bevy of additional recommended programs are available for purchase at $2.99 each. For iPhone users without access to gym equipment, for only $0.99 the “Outdoor Workout” feature utilizes GPS to track the time, place, and distance of a walk, run, or bike ride. The Virtual Trainer is a highly personalized tool for exercisers to stay committed to their goals. Its convenience, accessibility, and everyday usefulness make the Life Fitness Virtual Trainer a viable supplement to our ever-expanding “iMenu” of apps.
For more information visit www.virtualtrainer.lifefitness.com